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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 24, 2017

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Rae Morris, Athletico

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: RAE MORRISATHLETICO: Following its premiere as Hottest Record on Radio 1, Rae Morris has unveiled her new single Atletico, a beautifully uplifting track, once again perfectly showcasing Rae’s astounding, ethereal vocals and her newfound electro-pop sensibilities. Athletico is alive with energy and a positivity that’s inspiring. It’s effervescent beats and synth loops are as energetic as they are beautifully interwoven, while Morris’s ethereal delivery is crisp, sparkling and effortlessly endearing (especially when dropping lines such as “I’ll leave my light on”). It’s a celebratory track, perfect to warm up a cold winter’s evening, and which effortlessly manages to blend some leftfield leanings of artists like Bjork with a mainstream friendly vibe that is genuinely crowd-pleasing. The track is taken from her upcoming second album Someone Out There, which is due for release on February 2, 2018 via Atlantic Records – on the evidence so far, it’s going to be something fun and special. The album marks a stark sonic shift for the Blackpool native, seeing Rae hone her craft as a true creative force, with input in all creative aspects of the album, from the lyrics and music, to the imagery and artwork, music videos and production. Bold and ambitious, the record focuses in on complex, electronic elements, marrying perfectly with Rae’s soaring and ethereal vocals, with production from Fryars, Ariel Rechtshaid (HAIM, Adele), My Riot (London Grammar, Bloc Party, RHODES), Fred Gibson (Brian Eno, RAYE, M.O., Stefflon Don), Buddy Ross (Frank Ocean) and Starsmith (Jess Glynne, Clean Bandit, Kwabs, Ellie Goulding), as well as mixing from Dan Grech (Halsey, Wolf Alice, Lana Del Ray, Regina Spektor.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Diplo feat Mo

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: DIPLO feat MO – GET IT RIGHT: Major Lazer founder Diplo and long-time creative collaborator MØ have revealed their new single in the form of the excellent Get It Right. Taken from the companion album to Major Lazer’s new Give Me Future documentary, Get It Right finds the duo rekindling the magic they last found on global smash hit Lean On. This one opens amid MØ’s distinct vocals and a ramshackle piano, before opening up into something more synth pop meets trip hop. The beats are nicely worked, as you’d expect from a Diplo production, while the electronic elements continue to blend seamlessly with the boy-girl vocals. The underlying sentiment behind the record, about rising above challenges to get it right (“you can hold me down but…”), is suitably empowering, but in a cool way – a way that makes you feel euphoric half the time. It’s another excellent collaboration between these two artists.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Saint Clair, Human Touch

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: SAINT CLAIRHUMAN TOUCH: Human Touch is the latest alice of brilliance to arrive from Londoner Saint Clair’s forthcoming EP, D2, due in early 2018, and follows lead single Amnesiac, produced by Terrible Records signing Rahm. A slice of trip-hop that’s shot through with sensual vocals (reminiscent of Skye-era Morcheeba), this practically purrs along on Saint Clair’s dreamy vocals and the accompanying electronics and beats. But as soothing and satisfying as the combination sounds, it’s actually a song born out of tragedy, as the singer explains: “Human Touch is a straight-up break-up anthem. I was in emotional limbo when an ex suddenly appeared at the back of a venue I was playing at, and it completely caught me off guard. The song is an exploration of that push and pull between revisiting the past and moving on for good.” The resulting track is a really class act. Saint Clair – so called after her mother’s Scottish ancestry – is the recording alias of French-speaking North Londoner, Emily Topolski. Having grown up by painters, actors and journalists, Saint Clair became the first in her family to turn to music, pursuing a career trajectory that’s so far taken her on the road as a backing vocalist for long-time friend Laura Marling and seen her play keyboards and sing BVs for Ghostpoet. She has also supported Bastille on their most recent area tour. Directed by Lucie Beecham, the new video for Human Touch relocates the slow-burn longing of the track into a supernatural yet tender sequence, set in a mortician’s lab. Speaking about the video for the sinuous track, whose production reunites her with Ben Jones (who co-produced D1 alongside Ninja Tune’s Raffertie) Saint Clair said: “We wanted to put a spin on what is commonly understood when we say human touch. The video delves into the isolated underworld of a vulnerable, sensitive mortician who also happens to be a makeup genius. Like an old master, he restores the bodies that come through his mortuary back to their former glory”. Beecham says of the treatment: “I loved collaborating with Emma on this project – it was also really interesting to shoot something all in one space. It allowed us to focus on the details which was important for this kind of piece.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fenne Lily

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: FENNE LILYTHREE OH NINE: Fenne Lily has belatedly unveiled the official video for her current single Three Oh Nine. The video is her second with production duo Old Rope Films and finds Fenne taking an unusual approach to post-relationship closure. Speaking about the story of this video, Fenne said: “Heartbreak walks hand in hand with an anger and a madness that I felt I had to address. The video for Three Oh Nine was borne out of fury, not defeat. It’s an ode to the post break up ‘f**k you’.” Three Oh Nine, as a song, has proved popular with live crowds in recent months, prompting Lily to deliver a proper studio version. The track begins with Fenne’s now familiarly fragile vocals front and centre but marks the first time she has experimented with a fuller band sound – bringing in bass, percussion and glistening production, her repeated “please don’t leave” becoming a haunting refrain as the track unfolds. And believe us, that fuller sound arguably creates one of her most accessible records to date. The instrumentals blend seamlessly with her lush, soulful vocals, which build to a stunning crescendo over the later choruses. The build-up, too, is nicely layered and beautifully delivered, creating something of a dream of a record. It’s easy to see why it’s become such a fan favourite. It should also become a fan builder.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Anna Leone, I Never Really

ANNA LEONE – I NEVER REALLY: Anna Leone makes a welcome return with her second single, I Never Really, released via indie-label Awake in collaboration with All Points/Behave. A piano-led track, the song is beautifully realised – displaying some heartfelt, intimate sentiments in a sincere but highly endearing manner. It’s an exploration – a personal one that resonates beyond the singer’s own experiences. The mix of piano and acoustic guitar blends well with Leone’s husky vocal style, which is reminiscent of Sia at times and Martina Topley-Bird at others, while retaining an identity of Leone’s own. She really is a talent to keep an eye on. This blossoms in ever more wonderful ways, the longer it lasts. Anna says of the track: “The song deals with the idea of suppressing things you don’t want to deal with and wondering if that’s right or wrong and how that impacts your life and relationships. This is the most recent song I’ve written and the latest one recorded in the studio, so it all came together very quickly. I was writing a lot at home and this one stood out as something very sincere. I discovered the riff first and everything sort of fell into place after that, both the lyrics and melody.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher

LIAM GALLAGHERCOME BACK TO ME: Liam Gallagher and Noel Gallagher seem to be trading record blows at the moment. No sooner has one brother released a new track from a new project, then the other follows. Hence, as Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds dazzle with their recent work, so Liam also makes his own mark with his solo material. The latest offering from his As You Were LP is another anthemic, old-school slice of indie rock in the form of Come Back To Me. It’s the usual mix of attitude, brash guitar riffs, toe-tapping beats and striking vocals. Heck, you could be forgiven for thinking this is an Oasis throwback, as Liam isn’t one for reinvention (a la those High Flying Birds and their David Holmes collaboration). But in Liam’s case, when you’re sounding this good, why change things? It’s one that effortlessly pleases the fans, while showcasing just why the latest album has been such a rip-roaring success for Gallagher. The black and white video was directed by none other than Shane Meadows, of This Is England fame.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Arthur, Naked

JAMES ARTHURNAKED: Acclaimed artist James Arthur, returns with his piano-led new single, Naked, released on Sony Music. The track follows a remarkable 14 months for James. Since being released in September 2016, comeback single Say You Won’t Let Go has sold more than 8.3 million copies to date worldwide and secured 1.5 billion combined streams. The single spent three weeks at No.1 in the UK and went to No.1 on US radio. In addition, James’ album Back From The Edge, released in October 2016, went straight to No.1 in the UK charts and has gone multi-platinum worldwide. It’s a heart-on-sleeve, cigarette lighter moment ballad, which finds Arthur adopting soulful lyrics and laying his soul bare for all to see. The accompanying piano has a melancholy undertow, while the gospel element showcases Arthur’s newfound passion for that genre. Speaking about the track, Arthur said: “The four chords that introduce the song are key, I think. Then you get the crescendo, the middle eight, the huge final chorus, but there’s no sense of overload; it stays true to the simplicity of those four chords. It’s like a hymn, that devotional aspect. The minute you hear those chords, you want to sing over them.” Of the gospel element, he adds: “Gospel is something that’s become really close to my heart, I absolutely love it now. I’m not a particularly religious person but that music – man, it’s so powerful. Watching the George Michael documentary, it was such a strong reminder of how he brought gospel influences into pop, and how beautiful the results can be.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Into The Ark

INTO THE ARKSTRAIGHT TO YOUR DOOR: Into The Ark have unveiled their new acoustic single, Straight To Your Door, which was recorded live at the world famous RAK Studios in London. A stripped back, acoustic ballad, this showcases a nice vocal style and some emotive song-writing skills – a kind of Turin Brakes delivered in even more low-key, basic fashion (and we mean that as a compliment). The duo pour genuine feeling into their songs, while finding some subtle melodies in the simplicity of their acoustic strums. Taylor Jones, of Into The Ark, commented: “We’ve spent most of the year on the road and focusing on our live set as opposed to recording material, and after all the gigs, we decided to capture a live recording and did Straight To Your Door as it’s a favourite of ours to play live. Recording at RAK was something else – walking inside was like walking into a musical tardis, memorabilia from The Animals, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie … the list goes on! Such a beautiful studio and incredibly inspiring to play, strum, sing and record in.” They clearly were inspired, as the rousing vocal finale to the track suggests! Straight To Your Door is the first single from their double A-side (available now), while the second single, Burning Love, is out on January 5, 2018, as they look to hit the New Year running.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Baby Raptors

BABY RAPTORSLOST BOI: Acclaimed Brooklyn-based dance pop outfit Baby Raptors, who feature the song-writing team of Tora Fisher and Party Supplies (Justin Nealis), released a deluxe edition of their debut five song EP on Isotopia Records on November 10. Taken from the EP comes a new video for Lost Boi, which acknowledges the international yo-yo craze. The video features world champion yo-yo virtuoso Gentry Stein and Baby Raptors’ Tora going through their moves. The song itself combines retro ’80s synth pop elements with something close to hip-hop beats and lush vocals. It’s a slick concoction that comes out of leftfield as effortlessly cool. And the synth and beat combos work seamlessly in creating that smart vibe, making them something of a must-hear for fans of restyled 80s and forward-thinking future pop.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wyvern Lingo

WYVERN LINGOSNOW II: Think Christmas time songs should be schmaltzy and adhere to a certain formula? Think again… Wyvern Lingo may have named their latest single Snow II but it’s no White Christmas. Caoimhe Barry, who sings lead on the song, explains: “Snow II is partly written as a response to Simon and Garfunkel’s I Am A Rock. It’s from the perspective of the person trying to reach an ex-lover who is in that dark place, cutting themselves off from the world.” She adds: “It’s about wanting to comfort them, but you can’t speak to them or hold them like you might have when you were in a relationship, and how sad and confusing that is.” It’s dark stuff, with a strange comfort attached (given that someone is being thought of). Instrumentally, it’s couched in piano and subtle drum loops, as well as an electronic pulse underpinning things like a distant whirlpool of energy. Rather than let it take over, as its slow-build approach suggests, it then drops in some guitar hooks to layer the sound to bittersweet, quietly epic effect. The result is dark but striking. Originally recorded by the band in the summer of 2014, Snow II now pulses with an ethereal glow courtesy of James Kelly’s (WIFE, Zola Jesus) rich production and Neil Comber’s (M.I.A., Crystal Fighters) shimmering mix. “This is the version we always had in mind for this track,” adds Caoimhe. Quite right too!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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